Of Women and Salt tells the story of several women spanning several generations. With one important exception, the men in the story are more a source of pain, an impetus to drastic action, anger, or addiction. We don’t know their stories and that’s okay because this is Of Women and Salt. I am not sure where the salt comes from other than the Caribbean that separates Cuba from the United States or from the tears the women shed because their lives were hard and filled with pain.
Jeannette is struggling against addiction to heroin and to the man who introduced her. She calls him with her number blocked because she loves him but needs to stay away from his abuse and the drugs. She takes in a young girl whose mother has been picked up by ICE. Her mother advises her to call the police, but she doesn’t want to. Meanwhile, her mother has her own demons and won’t talk to her mother, a rift the family thinks is just politics, but there is far more to the story.
We also learn the story of Ana, the young girl, and her mother, in detention and in exile. And then there is the story of a book, a book passed down through generations and the love that it represents.
Women and Salt is an excellent book. We come to care about all the women, even the more inscrutable ones like Carmen who keeps her secrets to herself. It’s one of my frustrations with this book and these women, they do not really talk to each other. They keep their secrets, secrets that are destructive to them and their families. Of course, if they did talk to each other, if Carmen told her mother what she saw or her mother told her why she did what she did, if Jeannette told her mother what happened to her, so much pain would have been avoided and then there would not be this excellent book that warns us to be more honest with each other.
I received an ARC of Of Women and Salt from the publisher through Shelf Awareness.